Tag Archives: hackney

Reasons to be Cheerful #64: Salford

11 Mar

city of salford sign(2)

Today the universe sent me a sign. Rainy Manchester – which I swapped for reliably smoggy London – is warm and sunny, while the south? The south is COLD. Aha! Somewhere in the midsts of my – let’s be honest – short-lived smugness, I realised that I hadn’t done any kind of northern blog since I moved up here. It’s time to pay homage to my new home, Salford. Or – in my favourite pun of the year so far – Costa del Salford. So, reasons to be cheerful…

1. A Different Kind of Gentrification

Last time I was in Hackney central, the gentrification process was ramping up along Lower Clapton Road, where every other shopspace is now a trendy bar/cafe/beardy grooming salon. In grittier Salford, the introduction of BBC and the rest of the glitzy MediaCity development signalled new beginnings of a sort. But the pace is somewhat… slower. For example, I live in a place which has added the suffix ‘village’ in a fairly transparent attempt to belie the surrounding council estates and their Jeremy Kyle residents (I genuinely heard someone outside my window calling his girlfriend a ‘fat slag’). The naturally-occurring upscaling that comes with this new class of resident is self-evident in Broughton Village. We’ve got Matchsticks, a bar  decorated like a Groupon-featured salon; and a present shop selling bunches of sweets poorly disguised as flowers.




2. It Breeds Genius 

Salford is to culture like Wales is to just music. I didn’t even realise it was a city in its own right until about three weeks ago and now I find that it also gave us The Ting Tings. Here are some more famous Salfordians:

painter, L S Lowry;

wreckhead, Shaun Ryder;

wreckheads, Joy Division;

Keith Richards lookalike, John Cooper Clarke;

intense thespian, Christopher Eccleston  and

Gandhi impersonator, Ben Kingsley

Yes, even Gandhi came from Salford

Yes, even Gandhi came from Salford

3. The Culture

Seeing how Salford produced so many cultural behemoths, it’s only right that it should boast awe-inspiring museums and galleries. The Lowry gallery on Salford Quays is pretty impressive and stuffed full of Lowrys, but a brief visit to what you’d expect to be the city’s main cultural hub – Salford Museum and Art Gallery – makes it abundantly clear that the Lowry’s success is based on thievery. The poor old museum – right next to the university at which Lowry studied, has a handful of Lowry paintings and a lot of what artists call ‘negative space’ (bare walls). It is a bit depressing. But then, so was the music of Joy Division. So maybe it’s all on purpose..

4. The Scenery

L. S Lowry’s paintings are famous for their depictions of grim Manchester and Salford life. And there’s no getting around it. The setting is a gritty one. But at night it looks just marvellous, especially down on Salford Quays.

Rose-tinted nightvision

Night vision



(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: The weird canvas at Matchsticks that merges the faces of Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill)




Reasons To Be Cheerful 26: Parklife

6 May


The sun is out in Hackney and it’s to the park we head. It’s a beautiful day for inhaling hummus and crisps in the sunshine, and it’s a gorgeous day for people watching. And the people? Well, they’re certainly interesting, which as we all know, is a polite way of saying either a) fucking annoying; b) god awful; or c) encouraging their dogs to mount each other. Here’s why I’m cheerful about the park/sun combination:

1. Opportunities For Acceptable and Civilised Daytime Drinking

A classy beverage

A classy beverage

I should first point out that I have been known to enjoy a day drink on more than several occasions, and it would be mainly an untruth to say that these occasions have all been sunny. However, this does not mean that I am unable to appreciate the greater refinement that comes with enjoying a can of Pina Colada whilst sitting on a blanket in close proximity to cricket players. The Pina Colada may be 11% and taste like burnt sugar, but with the sun on its side, it has the high class aura of a vodka Martini sipped on a super yacht.

2. The Picnic

Not this one

Not this one

There really is nothing quite like a picnic. A John Lewis basket spilling over with strawberries and cream, Champagne and pimiento-stuffed olives; fresh anchovies, cold meats and salads involving quinoa. Or, if you choose to err on the economic side, a blue plastic bag filled with one large bag of crisps and the corner shop’s own hummus.

3. The People

On sunny days, I sometimes experience as many as four people that i don’t know, saying hello to me. And that’s not including the old letches (then you’re looking at at least seven). The sun just brings out the best in people. You also get to enjoy the families that have taken advantage of the good weather by bringing toddler Jimmy and doggie Bruno out to the park. A personal favourite for me, was the family who today brought their adorable toddler and two massive rottweilers out. Who doesn’t like to see dogs rutting in front of a three-year-old?

4. The Wildlife

Butterflies, twittering birds, dragonflies. Aah the lovely creatures of summer. So where were you today? All I saw was midges and I’m itching even now.

Beautiful, or just a big fly?

Beautiful, or just a big fly?

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: The fat man apparently burning himself on purpose whilst lying topless on the grass. Absolutely no need for that really).

Reasons To Be Cheerful #8: New Neighbours

5 Apr
That's when good neighbours become good friends

That’s when good neighbours become good friends

Even though our deteriorating society knows nothing of community or social unpstandingness, I am willing to go out on a limb and say that neighbours still have a place in our world. And I don’t just mean next door. 

We’ve recently acquired new ones downstairs and though I’ve yet to meet them, there are a number of things that make me feel assured of their essential goodness. Here goes:

1. Plant Pots = Good People

My first sighting of the new neighbours, well, one of the top of their heads at least, occurred when he was putting out plant pots on the inside window ledge. This must be a good thing. We buy plants very occasionally  but at the times that we do have them I certainly feel better about both myself and my abode.

2. Prior Knowledge

As luck would have it, the male half of the newly-moved in couple just so happens to have once shared some goodtimes with my housemate. What a piece of serendipity. Surely this will mean shared interests…

3. They May Have a Cat

According to the afore-mentioned housemate, they may have a cat. The ‘may’ here could make this point look a little tenuous, but I would strenuously refute such a suggestion.

4. Finally, a Civilised Existence

Much unlike our refined selves, the previous neighbours were of a shady character and I strongly suspect that they were running a marijuana factory or a people traffiking one. Possibly both. Now that we have nice neighbours like ourselves I foresee a time filled with dinner parties, mutual milk buying and, of course, cat sitting.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: The housemate link could, possibly, backfire)